Following the money in Baba Amr — back to Damascus?

Syrian authorities and state media have long insisted that rebels under assault in Homs have foreign backing. Now that the fighters have been forced to make what they described as a tactical retreat from Baba Amr, Syrian state television has stacks of money that supposedly got left behind — foreign money. Proof of foreign support?

Robert Mackey reports:

One of the last shots in the state television report showed a stack of foreign currency, apparently evidence discovered in Baba Amr proving that the rebels were paid agents. A closer examination of the money, however, reveals that all of the the bills are notes of very small denomination withdrawn from circulation years ago in Lebanon, Turkey, Israel and the Philippines.

After more footage of the foreign currency was broadcast on the Iranian government’s Arabic-language satellite channel, the Syrian activist and blogger Shakeeb Al-Jabri pointed out on Twitter that some of the bills described as “Israeli bank notes,” were, in fact, small denomination Lebanese liras that have not been in use since 1985 and an old type of Philippine peso that was replaced by a coin a decade ago.

So why exactly would Baba Amr’s fighters have been hording worthless out-of-circulation currency? Most likely this “evidence” didn’t show up until after the fighters had fled and rather than having come from outside the Syria it more likely came out of some dusty store room in the central bank in Damascus.

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